Not many people are fortunate enough to say that they can make a difference. Not many people are blessed enough to inspire America's youth.
I can. And I do.
I'm always trying to do good and give back to communities that need it most: from rebuilding NOLA (REPRESENT!), supporting after-school programs, giving back to Haiti, and most recently working with Tidal on the Social Wave for Change.
Having gone to the University of Houston for a bit, I saw firsthand how much potential and energy college students have. They have so many opportunities to make the world a better place, but they have a lot on their plates with the books, parties and jobs at the same time. They have the world at their fingertips but the weight of the world on their shoulders. It's hard to find time for themselves; let alone time to give back.
The biggest challenge in getting young people to do something is how to reach and inspire them. The truth is times are changing and it's getting harder and harder to bring everyone together for a good cause. We're at a crucial time in history and everybody needs to be involved to make this world a place that our kids, their kids and their grandkids want to live in. But everyone is glued to their phones nowadays. In 2015, 53 percent of adults 18-29 used Instagram daily, according to one study. Another study said the average 18-21-year-old uses almost four different social media platforms.
So I got to thinking, and realized that you have to be able to get this social media craze to inspire students across the country to go out and give back, and reward them for getting out there and doing good. This puts me in a special place where I can use my name and my loyal fans to inspire one of today's greatest generations to make a difference.
That's why I partnered with Tidal on a college-focused philanthropy project. I feel blessed to be part of this project initiative with an outstanding amount of responses- nearly 50 schools across the country entered a contest for a chance to see me perform at their school for free.
It was so cool to see what college kids are up to -- they did everything from setting up toy drives for Watts, distributing food to the less fortunate, organizing a bottled water drive for Flint, Michigan, raising awareness for various diseases, volunteering with schools & food banks and much more. It was truly inspiring!
After looking through all the amazing submissions, we chose the following schools as the finalists:
• Cal State University - Long Beach: These students went above and beyond in their community by participating in the Toys For Watts charity event and distributing food to the homeless in Long Beach, California.
• Cleveland State University: Dozens of students worked on organizing a bottled water drive for the people in Flint, Michigan, as well as hosting a bake sale.
• Kean University: These students participated in many different types of community service, including raising awareness for Women's Heart Disease, making Valentine's Day cards for the Specialized Children's Hospital and raising over $3,000 for the Special Olympics.
• North Carolina State University: From volunteering at a school for the blind to hosting their Anchor Splash Fundraiser to benefit Service for Sight, students at N.C. State came together to support a good cause.
• Pennsylvania State University: Whether they participated in a canned food drive, fundraised money for children with pediatric cancer through the university's annual dance marathon or volunteered at a furniture/clothing bank during spring break, Penn State students showed their commitment to community service.
• University of Louisiana - Lafayette: Students worked together to donate nearly 7,000 bottles for those affected in Flint, Michigan.
It's truly humbling to see such young individuals put in hard work that really makes a difference for communities, causes and people across the country.
I'm psyched to announce University of Louisiana - Lafayette as the winning university. I can't wait to head over there in April to thank these young individuals for all the work they put in to do some good for the needy. I'm pumped to put on an epic performance, which will also be live streamed on Tidal.com for all y'all to see!